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American Railroads (The Chicago History of American Civilization) Paperback – December 22, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0226776583 ISBN-10: 0226776581 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: The Chicago History of American Civilization
  • Paperback: 324 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (December 22, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226776581
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226776583
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth E. Wright on May 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
Stover certainly gives us a lot of facts about the American railroad from its early beginnings to its present-day situation and in a very readable style. But the order that he chooses to present them in seems backwards. Examples: He frequently informs us of the changing track mileage of Class I railroads. Great, only what IS a Class I railroad? He finally explains that in the last chapter! He rightly devotes much of the midsection of the book to the Golden Age from the end of the Civil War to the beginning of World War I. But in Chapter 4 he explains the construction of the lines during that period as if people were jolting through it all on Civil War era rolling stock. What about airbrakes? That innovation he explains in Chapter 6. In Chapter 4 he mentions a railroad having 400 miles of electrified track just after the turn of the century. But he doesnft bother explaining ELECTRIFICATION of railroads until Chapter 8. And at the beginning of that chapter that deals with the decline of railroads after World War II, he suddenly jumps us from 1945 to 1965 when 707s were jetting people coast to coast in a few hours and sinking long-distance rail passenger service in their wakes. Hey, what about the immediate postwar years when flimsy props were crashing more people than they were getting to their destinationsG and such modern luxury limiteds sprouting vista-domes as the El Capitan were smoothly and safely whizzing passengers across the continent? Ah, that he explains towards the END of the chapter. These and so many other sidetrackings made me feel Stover was trying to derail me!

Still, if you manage to avoid being derailed by him on the way, by the end of the book Stoverfs explanations do give you a very good overview of the American railroad. But he ONLY explains.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Barringer on November 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Railroads have had a truly massive effect on the United States, and this in turn makes it very difficult to write an introduction which is simultaneously concise enough and detailed enough. All things considered, John Stover has done a fairly good job. At barely 260 pages (not including end notes), one gets the impression he could have spent another forty or fifty pages on various other matters, such as technical innovations in the different types of locomotives; the effects that railroads had on micro-regional economies (the Atlanta area, St. Louis area, and so on) rather than merely on New England, the South, and the West; and perhaps a greater amount of time dedicated to the rebirth of railroads post-1980. He spends several chapters charting their decline, and only one (one of the shortest in the book, at that) describing their remarkable resurrection. Still, as an introduction it is quite a capable work, and will succeed in illuminating to readers which aspects of railroads they would like to study in greater detail.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pilot MKN on June 17, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a lifelong railroad buff, I had been looking for a good overall history of the railroads in the United States. This book definitely does not disappoint. The author includes several maps, charts and tables to back up and illustrate several of the facts he presents in the book. As he weaves the stories of the rails inching their way across America you'll be thrown all kinds of economic trivia such as operating ratios, profit, wages, cargo rates and such. For the real railfans, this will be welcome but the average reader might not appreciate all the nitty-gritty details.

My one big gripe with the book is the author does tend to slant toward the pro-government side. Several times in the book he implies that it was "necessary" for the government to step in or take it for granted that it needed to step in, specially in his section on the government takeover of the railroads during World War I. For his credit, he does document how inefficient the Feds were at operating the rail network during the war years. He actually does a decent job of documenting the deregulation effort when his beloved government had nearly killed off the railroads and needed to back off.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "rdryan" on October 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
Well written, concise and very informative. One of the best general railroad history books I have ever read. Mr. Stover covers the development of railroads in America from the beginning to present with an objective view.
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Joseph S. Maresca HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
This book is perfect for American History buffs. It contains

an exhaustive history of the evolution of railroading in the USA.

Railroads thrived throughout the 1850s in response to the trans-

Pacific trade in gold. In 1860, Chicago was served by 8 railroads.

The Pacific Railway Bill of 1862 heralded the first Pacific line.

A bill was signed on 7-1-1862. A picture of an 1870s railroad

management gathering depicted the executives in 3-piece suits and

beards. A sign posted land for $6 to $12. per acre in Illinois.

The NY-New Haven and Hartford RR line started circa 1844.

The book would be a perfect acquisition for the student in your

house.
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